I'm sitting here Monday morning, deeply processing motherhood. I'm tired, I'm worn-out, and if I'm honest, I'm sad a bit (or a lot...yes, I'm sad "big").
I'm not the type to have expectations. I don't like receiving gifts because I fear hurting the feelings of those who gave them to mie if I don't have the perfect reaction. I don't like expecting lest I get disappointed when things don't come. I'd rather just go-with-the-flow and I've become very content with that motto. It's helpful in my world too as I'm better able to cope with the next bit of crazy constantly thrown in my life.
But when I'm honest...
Life parenting 6 kids, 5 of whom are from hard places (and the 1 born to mie has been through hard things), is hard. I have 1 compliant child and that's only because he's still a baby (but a really "good" baby!). Ok - here's the run down:
Numero 1 - Logan - my first born, super-intelligent, strong-willed son who's equally sweet and caring as persistent and competitive for my affection. He needs to feel he's special, which is complicated by the fact he has 5 younger siblings.
Numero 2 - K - The oldest of her sibling group, she's also super-intelligent and yet her traumatic past tricks her into acting remedial at times to be sure she's not going to lose favor if she makes a mistake. She feels the need to compete with Numero 1 constantly, has trouble believing she can be "good" if Numero 3 is not bad so she quietly eggs him on repeatedly, and she's a great helper.
Numero 3 - Big E - The middle boy, only a year behind Numero 1 & Numero 2 yet stuck at the age of trauma to a large degree making him revert back to a toddler/preschooler when stressed. He's one of my Sensational Kids but he's fought very hard to heal to the place he's at now where he's no longer having violent fits of rage lasting for hours. He does, however, have bad times most days where he just can't get out of his self-preservation mode long-enough to correct his behavior. He's a challenge, this one, and his behavior is the primary reason the siblings weren't allowed to come live with us for so long last year. That being said he's made HUGE strides and I'm very proud of him.
Numero 4 - Summer - Oh Summer. My heart aches for this little girl. She's incredibly artistic and beautiful but as my second Sensational Kid she struggles to adapt to the world around her leading to strong defiance, frequent melt-downs (like you'd see in a 2 year old even though she's 4 1/2), and developmental delays in significant areas (potty training). This all blossomed around 3 years old, well after a year after we adopted her, and significantly hinders the joy in her life. She irritates her siblings on a daily basis and doesn't seem to comprehend what she's doing half-the-time (yet she does...).
Numero 5 - Miss L - The youngest girl, only a year younger than Summer. She's the girl everyone sees as "so sweet" and she is, sometimes, but as the 5th youngest in the family has become a fighter to get attention. It's completely age-appropriate and why I believe I wasn't made to be a mother to 3 year old girls.
Numero 6 - Baby Baby - Not really a baby anymore. He's walking and talking and still a joy to be around for now. He always wants to go outside and tells us so. He's also just beginning to tell us no and throw mini-tantrums.
6 kids, ages 1-7. It's hard. Having one is EASY. When we break them up into 2 or 3 it's still EASY. Like piece-of-cake we're totally great parents easy. We have all the right parenting skills. They work when the kids are alone or in small groups. But goodness gracious when the kids are all together is it hard. Really hard. It doesn't help that momma is usually by herself taking care of them all.
Let me give you an example.
Yesterday, for mother's day, I decided to take the kids to a movie at a place where you eat food while watching the show. I wanted to treat them. I really do love them a lot and actually this type of place is a nice break usually but this one seemed to not hold the younger ones' interests well and was 2 1/2 hours long which meant I spent a lot of energy keeping them all content. It didn't help that #4 was in trauma mode all weekend and needed the extra level of parenting. This movie meant our normal Sunday routine was a bit out-of-sorts and our normal Costco trip was 3 hours later than usual. It started out by #4 being in time-out outside of the store (with a game of I Spy for the others) for about 20 minutes while he got himself together. We had to wait in-line to return something we bought last week that was too small and you know, lines and 6 tired kids don't go well to begin with. The kids held it together for the most part though #4 was testing boundaries a good deal. Then #5 decided she'd had enough. I for the life of me can't remember what she was doing now but she ended up in her own time-out. She needed to sit where I put her (which happened to be at the end of a "quieter" aisle) for 3 minutes calmly before she could get up. But she had none of it. No matter what I did, for 20 minutes, she had none of it. Of course everyone there thought she was being so mistreated because she's a cute 3 year old crying in the middle of Costco. (thankfully after they realized I was there watching her and what was going on they encouraged me and left her alone). Eventually I had to put her into a cart to help her calm down and she complied, for 2 aisles. By this time the other 5 were done with her shenanigans and it was all I could do to try and keep them together while getting out of the store. After being told no, we now don't have time for a sample from that vendor, #5 decided she was going to throw another tantrum and kicked and screamed on the floor, which meant another time-out. This time she faced backward in a cart for the rest of the trip (because she wasn't getting it together) and we headed out of the store at which point #3 decided he was going to push the shopping cart against the way I was pushing it so he didn't have to go home because he didn't want to take a nap when we got home. I gave him his choice and he chose to go in the cart so that's where he ended up on the way to the car. He had to sit in his time-out until he controlled himself for 6 minutes and he didn't have any of it. So, he walked around hitting and kicking the car, throwing sticks at it, doing everything to get a reaction out of me rather than doing what he was supposed to do. I stuck to my guns and we all "had fun" in the car while he got himself together. I genuinely smiled when he started picking up all the sticks and sat for 6 minutes nicely when he was done with the fit. By this time it was 5pm. Church at 9, a 2 1/2 hour movie, and a Costco trip had taken us 8 hours due to frequent behavior checks. On mothers day. By myself.
When we got home I sent the more out-of-control kids to separate rooms for 30 minutes and told them all for Mother's Day mommy needed a 30 minute break. I was tired. I worked my garden and sat outside nicely, in peace, while my hubby who was now available manned the quiet (of course) fort.
When it came time for dinner I had my choice and oh was it a dilemma. To go out to eat and face more of the antics I'd had all day or stay home and make my own dinner (with the chaos at home). My hubby wanted me to chose but really it was too hard. All I wanted (my blasted expectation) was a good, fun, peaceful time with my kiddos. I wanted to enjoy them.
Don't get me wrong. There were plenty-of-things-awesome during my day yesterday. Numero 1 woke up and immediately apologized sincerely for his behavior the night before. They all immediately showered mie with love in the morning even though daddy wasn't there to remind them. I loved watching the two oldest thoroughly enjoy the movie we'd watched in wonder. The parenting techniques worked and I was patient and kind through them. (and they worked!!!). My hubby bought mie the only thing I wanted, even though I'd forgotten to tell him what I'd wanted and he didn't know I needed one. I heard from both sets of birth parents wishing mie a happy mother's day.
And finally - dinner was a success. It was pleasant. It was a lot of work like 6 kids at a restaurant is a lot of work but it was pleasant and fun, not crazy.
I'm exhausted from this parenting gig. It's worth it and I look forward to the days to come but I'm still tired. This phase will pass and someday my hubby and I will be sitting around wondering what-the-heck we're supposed to do with all the calm and quiet. I know that day is coming. But today I'm in the trenches of motherdom and it's often a hard gig.